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August 7, 2017

Alive and Alone distribution

Right! Album is in the can. As happy as I am prepared to fight for with the performances, mixing and mastering. Artwork done, based on the Tetrafasi artwork:

Alive and Lone Cover_Outer_1500.pngNote that this is simply the first panel of the Tetrafasi artwork, with the name of the album, "Alive and Alone", and a note that it's the first phase of Tetrafasi. Thats not an accident nor lazy - I always intended the artwork, like the music, to link this way. It's part of what Dr Huge teaches: "your art is more than your music".

This project, and the people it touches - both the songs themselves and the workshops that I aim to create from them - are part of my life's work and thus essential to defining me as an artist. They are all interlinked and are all designed together as part of a grander vision. Guess what the art on the next one will be?? :-)

Anyhoo, now it's time to think about how to release this album. There are many companies that distribute independent music and they are all do a good job, apparently. Many articles have been written about the various pros and cons of Tunecore, ReverbNation, Distrokid, etc, I always use CDBaby without question - here's why:

  • CDBaby is the only company that shares the risk of your release with you.

That's it - and it is vital to not only your success but to the entire ethos that underpins the Independent art world. The biggest barrier to artists succeeding in their business is the risk they take when paying to produce and market their music. Finding a company (or any group) that is willing to share that risk, and thereby reduce it, is invaluable ... unless you have the backing of a record company that is willing to do it for you.

But what does this look like? What do I mean "share your risk"?

Well, unlike companies that chanrge a flat fee for service, CDBaby shares only in your profits. You make money, they make money. You get nothing, they get nothing. There's a great example of the difference in digital distribution services. The key thing you need to understand is the concept of a Product Life Cycle, and the fact that each of your CD releases has one. EVERY CD release has one - Emimem's, Beyonce's, Coldplay's, Gaga's, ... every CD release starts with no sales, rises to a peak, and then falls away again. Sometimes, the peak arrives in a week or two, sometimes it takes six months to arrive ... (some, like mine, never peak) ... but the fall away again is inevitable.

So, what does this mean for Indies? Well, it means that at first your digital distribution costs will be bigger than your income from sales ... and then you should make something from sales ... but your album will probably spend eternity costing you money! The graph looks like this:

CD product-life-cycle - flat fee.pngOn the other hand, if you choose the CDBaby approach, you will ALWAYS make something from your release - even is it's 91% of bugger-all. Yes, at your peak CDBaby will cost you more than the flat fee will ... assuming you make that much ... but over the following 20 years, it will cost a hell of a lot less. The graph looks like this:

CD product-life-cycle - percent.pngNow, I have no problem whatsoever paying someone who's done a great service for me - especially if they have made nothing in all the time that I've made nothing. That's called a true partnership - you win, I win. The companies that charge a flat fee are saying that they want to get paid no matter what happens to you - they don't care whether you succeed or fail! That's perfectly legitimate business, but it's not sharing your risk and it's not helping you in all the time that your releases don't make their minimum.

I'll take the sharing approach every time ... and I'm happy to give back when it finally works for me.

Posted by Hughie at August 7, 2017 1:55 PM

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